Newspaper Industry’s Collapse Hastens; Shutdowns Loom

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Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — The collapse of the U.S. newspaper industry is accelerating as a deepening plunge in advertising forces publishers to consider curtailing print editions or shutting down altogether.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will shut down or appear only on the Internet if its parent company can’t find a buyer for it by March. The Tucson Citizen in Arizona will close if it can’t be sold. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News is up for sale, and Detroit’s two dailies cut their delivery schedule to three days a week.

“There’s going to be a lot of papers giving up days of the week that they publish editions and an acceleration of movement from print to digital publishing,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst at media consultant Outsell Inc. in Burlingame, California.

New York Times Co., Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co., which altogether own about 135 dailies, posted publishing ad revenue declines of more than 13 percent in 2008 and anticipate further drops this year. The publishers are selling assets and cutting at least 5,000 jobs amid the worst recession in more than 70 years.

“There really isn’t much of a silver lining to look to for advertising sales this year,” said Jon Swallen, an analyst with TNS Media Intelligence in New York.

About 60 percent of ad revenue comes from retail, automotive, financial services and real estate marketers, among the hardest-hit industries during the U.S. recession, he said.

By Greg Bensinger

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